170m Africans now use the world's largest social network
Facebook is a country.
Just to put it into context, if African users on Facebook started their own country, they'll be the second most populated country in Africa. Right behind Nigeria's 181 million strong number of course. (Thanks, Wikipedia)
But Facebook is not stopping, there are plans to expan further by adding Wi-Fi hotspots and fibre-optic cables, in a bid to capture emerging markets.
This 170 million figure is a 42% growth from when Facebook first opened an office in Africa in 2015. We know this biggest the Vice President of Global Marketing, Carolyn Everson, said so.
She also added that this Wi-Fi roll-out will be done via partnerships in Kenya and Nigeria. There are also plans to construct 770km of fibre in Uganada alongside Bharti Airtel in India. This fibre news first broke earlier this year.
On how to put Africa online, she said:
“There is no magic bullet to provide the Internet to people on the continent. We are using everything available to us, including rolling out Express Wi-Fi, building fibre and testing our Aquila project.”
Aquila Project is one of Facebook's babies where they are experimenting with deploying unmanned solar-powered drones that will provide Internet access.
Why is Facebook pushing for Africa?
They want more. Africa has less than 10% of Facebook's 1.9 billion users. It's why they are investing so much, because of the clear potential this has for them.
Most of Africa's population is young, and they are trying to take advantage of the growing affordability of smarphones.
But Facebook is just part of the bigger scramble for Africa.
Another company is Google. They also want to lay fibre-optic cables and provide access to cheaper Android phones.
Because money slow to enter on this continent of ours, Facebook believes these investment can help drive data prices down, or even make some features free. Like Facebook's Free Basics, which allows Airtel users in Nigeria use Facebook for free.
It's whye Everson said;
“People are sensitive to data prices on the continent. Infrastructure is expensive and that is why we are looking for partners. We are partnering with telecoms infrastructure projects and as a result bring down the price of data.”
Amongst other things,
She talked about Whatsapp's popularity in Africa, even more than Facebook Messenger. Which kind of makes sense, especially since many people first ran to Whatsapp because they were tired of their mothers sending Blackberry Broadcasts.
Guess where mummy and daddy are sharing broadcasts now?
Facebook has also not given up on the possibility of using a satellite to connect rural Africa, after the SpaceX rocket incident last year.
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